China on Tuesday said there was no scope for a “compromise” in the military standoff with India in the Sikkim section, and put the onus on New Delhi to resolve the “grave” situation. In unusually blunt remarks, China’s Ambassador to India Luo Zhaohui said “the ball is in India’s court” and it was for the Indian government to decide what options could be on the table to resolve the standoff. Asked about remarks by official Chinese media and think- tanks that the conflict can lead to a “war” if not handled properly, the ambassador said in an interview to PTI: “There has been talk about this option, that option. It is up to your government policy (whether to exercise military option).”
The Chinese government is very clear that it wants peaceful resolution at current state of the situation for which withdrawal of Indian troops from the area is a “pre- condition”, he asserted. However, he made it clear that there was no scope for a “compromise” on the issue. “The first priority is that the Indian troops unconditionally pull back to the Indian side of the boundary. That is the precondition for any meaningful dialogue between China and India,” he said.
China and India have been engaged in a standoff in the Dokalam area near the Bhutan trijunction for past 19 days after a Chinese army’s construction party came to build a road. Doka La is the Indian name for the region which Bhutan recognises as Dokalam, while China claims it as part of its Donglang region. China and Bhutan are engaged in talks over the resolution of the area. Bhutan, however, has no diplomatic ties with China and it is supported militarily and diplomatically by India.
“The situation is grave and made me deeply worried. It is the first time that Indian troops have crossed the mutually recognised boundary and trespassed into China’s territory, triggering a close range face off between Chinese and Indian border troops. Now 19 days have passed, but the situation still has not eased,” Luo said.
He also asserted that India has no right to interfere with the China-Bhutan boundary talks, nor is it entitled to make territorial claims on behalf of Bhutan.
On the standoff, the Ministry of External Affairs had said India was “deeply concerned at the recent Chinese actions and has conveyed to the Chinese government that such construction would represent a significant change of status quo with serious security implications for India”. “As for the so called ‘security concerns’ of the Indian side, India has crossed a delimited boundary into other country’s territory in the name of security concerns, no matter what kind of activities it conducts there, which will not acceptable to any sovereign state.
“India cannot encroach upon the territory of other countries on the ground of its ‘security concerns’. Otherwise, the world would be in chaos,” the Chinese envoy added.
He also asserted that “it is critical that India shall withdraw its troops immediately to minimise the negative impact. It serves the interests of the two sides.”
He also noted that the current standoff was of different nature from the previous frictions between the two countries, and said it was the first time that such a severe situation has occurred at the Sikkim section of the China-India boundary.